The wildfires in California surge into August, leaving many people without homes. And now, many residents are worried that strong winds will spread the flames to new locations.
So far, 18 fires throughout California have taken two dozen lives and the Carr fire alone has burned down over 1,000 homes. The Wine Country fires have taken dozens more.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, there were 364,300 residential building fires in 2016. Insurance claims are expected to rise from the 5.3% of homeowners that filed claims during that same year.
With changing winds expected to come in early August, the new weather system could result in the wildfire spreading to the east.
Firefighters have begun to prepare for the winds by establishing and strengthening new containment lines. When four new fires popped up on August 1 alone, worries over the weekend are at an all-time high.
For those who hope to rebuild their lost homes, they have been faced with another challenge: the shortage of construction workers throughout the state.
In certain areas, the construction industry had increased during times of crisis. For example, Texas experienced a surge of construction workers following the catastrophic results of Hurricane Harvey. Service workers decided to abandon their jobs for the lucrative construction openings needed to handle the damage following the hurricane. Unfortunately, this hasn’t been the case for California.
Between 2005 and 2016, California’s construction industry shrunk by nearly 20% while the number of young workers in construction fell by nearly 45% in the same timeframe, according to Mercury News.
Because there are so few contractors available, prices for available companies have soared. Many Californians have been forced to abandon their homes and move following the fires.
But why are the fires so out of control this year?
While fire ecology is natural for the Californian landscape, the current extent of the wildfires, as well as the damage they’ve caused, is some of the worst on records. Scientists claim the fires have become so formidable because of the shift occurring in the jet stream, which has resulted in hot, dry, stagnant weather on the west coast.
Scientists claim this is happening because of human-induced global warming.
Researchers from Columbia University and the University of Idaho discovered that global warming conditions spurred by humans have dried out forests more and more each year. This has extended the fire season in the west by more than a week with each year that passes.
The San Francisco Chronicle notes that past human influence has also contributed to the raging fires in more direct ways.
“The nation’s longtime policy of wildfire suppression, for example, has created a dangerous buildup of vegetation that’s making fires more intense,” the paper reports.
For families living in temporary housing or RVs, one of the biggest concerns can be access to clean water. Purchasing a water-certified hose can prevent illnesses and they usually run between 10 and 50 feet depending on the brand.
As fire crews prepare for the weekend winds, they’ve warned residents to practice fire safety and refrain from creating recreational fires. Many others have cleared away brush and lower tree limbs by hand to prevent fires from spreading.